The Global Education Conference – from a moderator’s point of view

There is something surreal about moderating and leading  a Global Education Conference presentation with representatives from across the globe including Bolivia, India, China, Korea, Vietnam, USA, Nepal, New Zealand, Philipines, Somalia etc However it is not just any conference but a virtual one which is free, online, runs 24 hours a day over four days. There were participants whose names I could not pronounce, nor did I know which was the first name or last name, nor the gender attached to the name. The title of the session was Tools and Apps for the Global Educator. You can view the presentation.

Participants came from all levels of education – from teaching the very young through to tertiary and beyond. They came from a variety of languages including Chinese, Korean, Sinhalese, Filipino. Yet our interest in global education led us to develop a list of apps and tools that global educators might find valuable.

As the US participants went to sleep, it was time to take over the moderation of the conference. The Australian evenings and late afternoons were certainly quieter than the frenzy of the US day times. Sessions always had participants, unlike previous years where there was sometimes just the presenter and moderator. It was pleasing to have a good number of sessions with presenters from the Philippines. The background sounds changed with dogs barking in the background, roosters crowing and motor bikes on the road nearby. Technology rarely failed. The last night of the conference was the busiest with four concurrent sessions sometimes running. Maizie from Israel, Sue Wyatt from Tasmania and I were able to handle these busy times until the US once again started their day.

The Spanish conference presentations are always a challenge as I cannot speak Spanish and many of them cannot speak English. Google translate and Bing translate come into their own in these circumstances. Trying both tools, I think that Bing was more successful in translation than google. But often, the full meaning had to be guesstimated. There is also something surreal about being a participant in a Spanish session, listening to the speed, the intonation and the flow of the language!

steve being translated in spanish

I was able to attend one session during my daytime – that of keynote presenters Will Piper and Pedro Apricio Engaging in Learning Beyond Borders. These two guys met each other in the Global Education Conference five years ago, struck up a connection and have worked together ever since. It was multilingual (which I personally loved with Pedro sometimes speaking in Spanish and then translating back into English). They had a great sense of fun as can be seen by Will’s quick costume change at the end!

having fun with will and pedro

This is a truly amazing conference when the world is involved and that shared passion for global education evident. It is highly recommended that you watch some of the recordings of presentations. The keynotes are a great place to start. Did you participate in any sessions? Which would you recommend?

A touching introduction!

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, I attended Comview, the Victorian Teachers Association for Commercial Teachers annual conference. On Tuesday morning, I gave my presentation on “Trending Tools and Apps for Students in the Commerce Classroom”. There were approximately 40-50 teachers in attendance.

Aishah introduced my session, explaining a little about me and my role in the Commerce Classroom. She made welcome to country and acknowledged the elders on whose land we were on.

However the next was totally unexpected! she asked us all to take a few moments to reflect on the recent events in the world (Paris), reminding us of the important role that we play as educators and the influence that we can have on students, whilst they are young, to develop empathy, tolerance and an understanding of different cultures/religions.

Aishah was a female, muslim teacher from one of the Melbourne Islamic schools. I nearly started my presentation in tears!

My journey to work in pictures

For the first two days of this week I am in Melbourne for one of my favourite conferences – Comview, organised by the Victorian Commercial Teachers Association.

Melbourne is being decked out for Christmas, one of our biggest traditional festivals. The Myer Christmas windows are now open for viewing, the Town Square and Federation Square is being decorated and many of the arcades and laneways feature ornaments. Here is what my journey to work looks like:-


Starting from Victoria Market

Starting from Victoria Market

Bourke Street decorations

Bourke Street decorations

Stopping by the Myer Christmas windows

Stopping by the Myer Christmas windows

 A little dog lost amongst the trams in Myer windows

A little dog lost amongst the trams in Myer windows

myer windows tram

Down the Royal Arcade

Down the Royal Arcade

Breakfast in the laneways

The Block Arcade

The Block Arcade

toy soldier in collins street

Flinders Street Station

Flinders Street Station

Destination Comview Conference Flinders Street

Destination Comview Conference Flinders Street

The Global Education Conference


The Global Education Conference is here again. It is free, online, open to all interested in global learning over a span of four days, 24 hours a day. It is  a space for educators from all corners of the globe to congregate, socialize, network and to learn with and from each other.

There is something surreal about being in a presentation with people who may not speak English as their first language, whose names I cannot pronounce and who may come from countries I have to ‘google’ to find out where they are from.

There is an amazing array of keynotes and presenters, who come from all countries of the world, all passionate about global education, willing to share their experiences. Please make time to join this amazing conference. Check out the conference program in your time zone, put up your feet and enjoy the best that technology can bring.

The twitter hashtag is #globaled. The ISTEglobal PLN has put together a list of their presenters and some recommended sessions. You can see it by clicking on this link.

A glimpse into a Chinese seaside resort – from the classroom!

Being part of the China Connections global project with Julie Lindsay and Katie Grubby has provided students in our remote rural school with some amazing opportunities to develop their understanding of the Chinese culture, language, history and geography etc. (Students in our school learn mandarin Chinese.)

One such live connection involved a group of year 9/10 girls using a skype videoconference call with Blair Li, a young girl who is passionate about developing the sport of surfing in China. She came from Xinjiang  far away from sea to a Hainan, discovered the  Baysurf club and obtained work at one of the resorts.

Blair Li

As our school is located approximately 25 mins from the sea in a highly popular tourist area and as surfing is a popular sport there, this was of high interest to us. There is something surreal about taking a virtual tour of the resort, seeing the bar where the tourists are sitting and capturing an insight into the outdoor setting that Blair was part of.

Skype was used for the vidoeconference. Blair talked a little about her work, what life was like, the fact that this current resort area used to be a Chinese village etc. The girls had pre-written questions to ask her. Unfortunately our connection lagged as we started this process and it was difficult to catch the answers.
Their questions included:

  • What do you like about surfing?
  • How did you learn about surfing?
  •  How did she discover that she likes surfing?
  • Was it a hard decision to make – to leave your stable job?
  • Why did you give up your job to teach surfing?
  • How many people know how to swim? Children?
  • How do they learn to swim?
  • Are there any other surfers like you living next to the surf?
  • How do Chinese people look upon women surfing?
  • Does the sea scare you at all?
  • How good and reliable is the surf where you are? Can people swim there? How big are the swells?
  • How hard is it to get people interested in surfing? What do you do to encourage them to surf?
  • Do you have to teach people how to swim first?
  • Do you surf in competitions?
  • How does rural China differ to the city China?

Thanks Blair for a fascinating connection.

Read more about Surfing Hainan

Talk of the School!

china todayTalk of the School …. but, no, not our school, Hawkesdale P12 College in Australia,  but Yeh Wah International Education School of Yantai, Shandong. Following is a comment within an email from David Deeds, a teacher at this school,  after an exciting Skype linkup.

Paul (Chinese computer teacher) and students had a great face-to-face Monday.  It’s the talk of the school. ;)

Two classes are combined

Two classes are combined

After several test linkups between teachers, using skype, and finding that it was not always stable and bandwidth not always reliable, it was decided to connect our year 7 students with a combined year 7 class in Yeh Wah International Education School. Their students are predominantly Chinese with some Korean, Japanese and other Asian students.

some of the girls in the class

some of the girls in the class

In the past, China has been one of the most difficult of countries to directly connect with, so it was with some nervousness that the video call was made. Problems with my laptop, the need to restart it etc meant that all the pre-setup of audio and video was lost. This took some minutes to rectify but once the Chinese students could see us, there were  the sounds of great excitement and interest amongst the Chinese students. This excitement was a little difficult to contain at times and made hearing and listening challenging at times.

How the 45 minute connection looked:-

  • our students  introduced themselves with both their Chinese and English names using printouts to display to the webcam.
  • several Chinese students introduced themselves. Much to the delight of Jess in my class, there was a Jessica in the Chinese class.
  • We showed a lamington (cake), vegemite, aussie rules footy, cricket and basketball. Emerson showed a picture of a horse as she loves horse riding.
    phone use showing vegemite
  • They showed us some of their current magazines, including their games magazines
  • Immediately, one of my boys went to the staff room, grabbed a newspaper and showed it.
  • After Emerson showed her picture of the horse, one of the Chinese girls brought her phone to the camera and showed us her pet dog. We asked how many in their class had dogs and only she had one. Everyone in my class had a pet dog. However many on both sides had a cat for a pet. Immediately, one of the Chinese girls shared a pic of her dog using her mobile phone.

    Showing a pet dog

    Showing a pet dog

  • They wanted to know what we do in our spare time.
  • We wanted to know how many students were in their class – 16 boys and 19 girls.

the time

To finish the class, we took a selfie for the records.

Three class selfie

Three class selfie

No formal structure had been planned for the connection, but each country had some objects to share and show and my students had printed their names on an A4 sheet of paper in both English and Pinyin. However it worked remarkably well. There was lively chatter at times due to the excitement. Students made the most of spontaneous learning by showing pics on their mobile phones to share over the webcamera.

Following are some of the responses from students re “Why they enjoyed the skype linkup!”

Tim: I think that it is a good way to learn about China because they live in China and they can also speak English so we can ask them questions. It was cool to talk to people from far away in a different time zone.

Abbey: I enjoy it because we get to talk to the country (and language) that we learn about at school.

Clem: i enjoyed the skype with china it was some times hard to understand them but it was fun

Emmerson:I enjoyed this session because we got to link up with kids the same age as us and they lived in a different country. I think this is a good way to learn about China because we get to learn new facts about the country from people that live in china.

Georja: I really enjoyed our link up and hope to do it again because it was good as we also learn Chinese at our school.

Jess: My favourite part of the link up was learning that there was another Jess in that year seven class.

Jack: the session was fun because we got to learn about their school and their lifestyle. it is a good way to learn about china because they can tell us in person if it is right or wrong.

I learned that all of the class have phones and not very many of them have pets which I find odd bacause everybody in my class have at least one pet.

Milla: I really enjoyed the link up because it was really interesting to see the difference between them and us eg the technology. They had macbooks and  everyone had a mobile phone. Some had iPads. Yet, we also had similarities eg magazines, pets, liked playing video games.

Read student blog posts summarizing the learning

Tim Skype with China

EmmersonThe linkup with China

Jess Link Up in China

Georja Linkup

China Connections

When the opportunity arose to join China Connections, a global collaborative project setup by Julie Lindsay of Flat Connections and Katie Grubby of Mandarin Pathways, it was taken up immediately, with strong approval by our principal. Our school teaches mandarin Chinese from Prep (5 year olds) through to year 10 with the option to study it further as a formal VCE subject by distance learning.

Students in our school are isolated geographically and culturally and see little need to learn another language as travel overseas and exposure is not an option for many. Most  live on farms or in small rural towns, are from low economic backgrounds and often remain in the small rural communities. However, our school has had Chinese language assistants for the last three years and Beijing no. 27 school sends students to our school every second year and our students are offered that same opportunity. Only a very small number of students take up this opportunity.

In 2015, one of our year 10 student, Sarah was was fortunate enough to be part of the Victorian Young Leaders to China Program in 2015. Sarah wishes to study mandarin Chinese through to year 12. Along with four other year 9/10 ICT students, they will be part of this trial project.

fuze meeting

The Project so far has involved:-

  • several schools in China, Australia, USA and a number of individually enrolled teachers and students.
  • finding tools that can be accessed in both China and the other countries involved. These include  edmodo, voicethread, skype, wechat and email.
  • cross age students from primary through to secondary and some home schooled students
  • supportive community members in China See The Learning Concierges page.
  • regular global staff meetings online in fuze.
  • a wechat group for updates, sharing pictures, conversations etc Wechat is a popular social media app used in China with many great features